In Defense of Video Games…..

Back in the day when I had a Mac G4, I got a copy of Unreal Tournament.

This was my introduction into the beautiful, bloody world of First Person Shooters.

Some people say video games are a waste of time, some even say that First Person Shooters will reduce your empathy for others and work as training ground for spree killers. Some people might say the world is flat. Fuck ’em, I like video games. Who are they to tell me what I can or can’t play? There’s still something called the First Amendment, right?

This article cites a study that fast paced games such as First Person Shooters may help enhance visual search skills:

“After 30 days, Unreal Tournament players demonstrated a 15-20% improvement in their ability to ignore visual distractions, while the Tetris players showed zero improvement. Therefore, visual search skills can be enhanced by playing video games, if the games are fast-paced and visually challenging.”

This article relates the effects of dopamine, learning and new experiences and speculates how videogames may positively affect thinking and how one explores the world:

“What kind of cognitive skills should we expect to find in the Pokémon generation? Not surprisingly, Gee has got a list. “They’re going to think well about systems; they’re going to be good at exploring; they’re going to be good at reconceptualizing their goals based on their experience; they’re not going to judge people’s intelligence just by how fast and efficient they are; and they’re going to think nonlaterally. In our current world with its complex systems that are quite dangerous, those are damn good ways to think.”

This article contradicts common knowledge and states that video games may help you professionally:

“A prime example of gaming that tangibly improves professional technique comes from James Rosser, director of the Advanced Medical Technology Institute at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. He found that laparoscopic surgeons who played games for more than three hours a week made 37 percent fewer errors than their nongaming peers, thanks to improved hand-eye coordination and depth perception. The Harvard Business School Press published a new book in November 2006 by John Beck, who has looked at three distinct groups of white-­collar professionals: hard-core gamers, occasional gamers, and nongamers. The findings contradict nearly all the preconceived ideas about the impact of games. The gaming population turned out to be consistently more social, more confident, and more comfortable solving problems creatively. They also showed no evidence of reduced attention spans compared with nongamers. “It wasn’t surprising that gamers were more competitive, or more strategic, but the social and leadership skills that they exhibit don’t fit the stereotype of a loner in the basement,” Beck says.”

What are you still doing reading, you need to go exercise your brain….

Update, I just saw this article.

“Online gamers have achieved a feat beyond the realm of Second Life or Dungeons and Dragons: they have deciphered the structure of an enzyme of an AIDS-like virus that had thwarted scientists for a decade.”

“Developed in 2008 by the University of Washington, it is a fun-for-purpose video game in which gamers, divided into competing groups, compete to unfold chains of amino acids — the building blocks of proteins — using a set of online tools.

To the astonishment of the scientists, the gamers produced an accurate model of the enzyme in just three weeks.”